Category Archives: IEEE Spectrum

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Nicaragua’s Bottom-Up Rural Electrification

Luís Euxebio Irías Calderón is the operator of a small hydroelectric power plant in the mountainous coffee country of northern Nicaragua, and he’s singing a song he wrote about turbines and transformers, to celebrate the arrival of electricity here in his remote corner of the country.

This radio report first aired on NPR’s Here and Now in partnership with IEEE Spectrum: [html] [mp3]. Continue reading

EVs Move Downmarket at Detroit Auto Show

Carmakers are falling over themselves to announce full-electric, hybrid, and alternative-fuel vehicles at this year’s Detroit auto show. Chevrolet announced a concept for a mid-range fully electric car, the 200-mile-range Bolt, that might cost around $37,500 before tax credits in its 2017 lineup. The Bolt, designed by an Australian subsidiary of GM, will use a battery under development by LG that has a less block-like design than conventional battery packs and could offer carmakers more design flexibility.

The only current widely distributed electric car in that price range, the 84-mile range Nissan Leaf, will see “a lot of enhancements,” in time to compete with the Bolt, says Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. Other companies, such as BMW and Audi, are also commercializing full EVs, but the Chevrolet announcement is a sign that mainstream American carmakers are now stepping into the fray.

Read the rest of this blog post at IEEE Spectrum’s Cars That Think blog: [html].

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Mexico’s Renewables Revolution Creates Tension

Men died in gun battles over the installation of windmills in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, three years ago. Opponents argued that energy companies misled them and that community leaders rented out collective lands without consulting everyone they should have. Today, protests continue, but the growth of wind farms and other renewables seems assured: Mexico boasts almost 2 gigawatts of installed wind power capacity and plans to install perhaps another 12 GW by 2022. All that clean energy is a big change for this country, which is the world’s ninth-biggest oil producer and perhaps the 11th-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. Continue reading

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabofr/

Power Production Decentralizes in Mexico

Over the last twenty years, Mexico’s electricity sector has shifted from being almost 100 percent state-owned and centralized to about one quarter privately generated. This summer, the Mexican government signed into law energy and electricity grid reforms that will accelerate the decentralization of its electricity production (See “Mexico Opens Its Grid to Competition.”). By the end of this year, a new agency should have a regulatory map available for power producers large and small, said Edgar López, renewable energies director at Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) at a conference in Mexico City last month. Continue reading